Category Archives for "Language Learning Tools"

The Art and Aggravation of Spanish Past Tense Conjugation: Make It Personal

As I’ve mentioned before, I got the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Argentina for a summer during college. It was an amazing experience for so many reasons, including, of course, my Spanish acquisition journey. Not only did I learn and improve immensely while there, talking about my experience afterwards has also given me numerous chances to practice Spanish past tense conjugation in the context of my everyday life.

cordoba de bicentenario

A whimsical and larger than life piece I saw in Córdoba that celebrates the nation’s bicentennial.
Photo courtesy of the writer


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Overcoming the Fear of Learning Spanish: Making Real Progress Takes Time and Effort

Fear is normal when starting something unfamiliar, like a new school or a new job, and language acquisition is no exception. Fear of learning Spanish can hold people back from ever getting started, and even when you’ve decided to start, it can hold you back from really trying and making progress. As much as you might want the fear just to go away, it is part of how our brains are wired. In My Stroke of Insight, the author Jill Bolte Taylor says: “When incoming stimulation is perceived as familiar, the amygdala is calm and the adjacently positioned hippocampus is capable of learning and memorizing new information. However, as soon as the amygdala is triggered by an unfamiliar or perhaps threatening stimulation, it raises the brain’s level of anxiety and focuses the mind’s attention on the immediate situation. Under these circumstances, our attention is shifted away from the hippocampus and focused toward self-preserving behavior about the present moment.”

thinking feeling


Our emotions are very powerful and have a lot of influence over us. Though we might not be able to control how we feel in a new situation completely, being prepared for how we will feel can help. When you start learning Spanish, or start a new Spanish class or anything like that, you will most likely feel nervous, which can get in the way of you acquiring the language. A good thing to remember is that being nervous at first is just part of the process; after a few times you’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable and thus be more able to absorb the language. While language acquisition does take time and effort, it is worth it. A whole world it opened up in which you get to connect with other people and cultures, and you get to meet whatever personal goals you have for your Spanish skills.

If you can find ways to make yourself comfortable, like going to a class with a friend, you can lessen those negative emotions and thus increase your brain’s ability to learn. The more you can practice Spanish in a comfortable environment, the better prepared you’ll be to use it in real life. Find content that you’re familiar with, like a favorite movie, TV show, or book, and interact with it in Spanish. Maybe there is a Spanish version already available, or maybe you do the translation yourself, which is great practice anyway!

Interacting with Spanish in your home, on your own time is a great way to get comfortable and build up to real world application. With Pars Omni Spanish Voices software, you can listen to and customize authentic, native spoken Spanish from the comfort of your computer. This low stakes, controlled environment is a great way to work out your nerves and make real progress in Spanish fluency.

Download Spanish Voices for free today and experience the benefits of learning Spanish in a familiar and accessible environment. You may be nervous at first, but once you see yourself making real progress in speaking and understanding Spanish, I bet you’ll be itching to get out there and use Spanish in your everyday life.

How to Keep Your Focus in Spanish: Integrating Content That is Meaningful to You

I love when different parts of my life overlap and intersect. For example, this blog! I get to do something I love – write – about other things I love – language, Spanish, language acquisition, etc. Another example of this is when my friend gave me a Spanish Bible. Connecting the stories in the Bible to the language I was (and always will be) learning was really cool.

spanish bible

A wonderful and meaningful gift from a wonderful friend.
Photo courtesy of the writer

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The Benefit of Human Resources in Spanish: Language is about Communicating with Real People

You may see a blog post with “human resources” in the title and think, “What does this have to do with acquiring Spanish?” Well, I’m not talking about your friendly company HR person; I’m talking about the value of living, flesh and blood humans in the process of learning a new language. When you have human resources in Spanish acquisition, language comes to life and functions the way it is meant to: as a means of communication among people. You can get a tutor, you can meet people via online groups, or you may already know someone who speaks Spanish, and you just need to work up the courage to strike up una conversación with them. Even if you don’t have access to Spanish speakers in person, you can get the value of natural speech through the internet, apps, or software like Pars Omni Spanish Voices.

human resources in spanish

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Staying Focused in Spanish Acquisition: Find What Works and Keep it Simple

Though they might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of inspiration for a blog post, billboards have served as springboards for my writing more than once in the past. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention when I’m driving? I’d prefer to think that I’m just very observant and good at multitasking. Anyway, I recently saw a great billboard and, as I tend to do, I followed a train of thought and arrived at the idea of the importance of staying focused in Spanish acquisition (or any learning process).

use less billboard

A brilliantly conceptualized and executed message.
Photo courtesy of the writer

While this billboard is referring to reducing water use, the underlying idea can be applied to many different things. As someone who grew up as a pretty scheduled kid, being very dedicated to academics as well as doing lots of different activities, I can appreciate the beauty of “less is more” and the joy of simplifying. This can be a very important yet often overlooked philosophy in language acquisition.

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